Your meter box performs a vital job – protecting your energy meters so that they stay functioning and accurate. However, over time even a safely housed energy meter will start to show signs of wear and tear.
And faulty energy meters mean inaccurate meter readings which can create a serious financial and administrative headache. You could end up overpaying or underpaying on your energy bills, and this will be caught eventually leaving you with an unexpected lump payment to make (or retrieve, which can be difficult in itself with some suppliers).
So it benefits you to spot a faulty energy meter as quickly as possible, but how do you do that? In this post, we’re going to look at some telltale signs that your gas meter or electricity meter has developed a fault, as well as give you some advice on what to do when you do think a fault has developed.
How do I tell if My Energy Meter Is Faulty?
If you’re concerned one of your energy meters may be faulty, then there are a couple of things you can check or ask yourself before you contact your energy supplier.
How Often Does My Energy Meter Need To Be Replaced?
The first sign that you could need a new energy meter is if it is over 10 years old. Most meters will have a lifespan of between 10-20 years, so if you’ve had your current gas or electricity meter for a couple of decades or more then that’s a surefire sign you need an upgrade – even if a fault hasn’t developed yet.
In most cases, your energy supplier will contact you when you are due a new meter. This is separate from generic messages that offer you a new smart meter, and they will likely be in touch to arrange a time to fit a replacement.
If you think your meter is due a replacement due to its age, you can also contact your energy supplier yourself. They have access to the records on your meter so they will be able to check relatively quickly and easily if either your gas or electricity meters are ready to be replaced.
However, make sure to explain exactly why you want a new meter to avoid any confusion or charges for an unnecessary replacement.
Have You Seen a Sudden Jump in the Cost of Your Bills?
The most obvious sign of a fault in your gas, water or electric meter is if your meter readings have gone up a lot while your gas or electricity consumption hasn’t changed.
This does not just mean the cost of your bills has gone up. Energy prices regularly change – and have actually seen record rises over the last few years. However, if you compare your energy bill to one from a year ago and the actual amount of gas or electricity used in your meter reading seems to have significantly increased – without any changes to your energy use – then your meter may be to blame.
Is Your Meter Showing an Error Message?
Okay, this one might seem obvious but these days the majority of energy meters are digital which allows them to show an error message if they develop a fault.
This message may be as simple as ‘error’ or ‘fault’ or they may give a specific indication of what is wrong such as ‘battery’. They may even make a noise to indicate there is something wrong.
If any of these messages appear, it’s a good idea to contact your energy supplier.
But this doesn’t mean you have to wait to see one of these messages before you investigate a fault with your meter. If you notice one of the other issues on this list, but there is no error message, you can still contact your supplier to discuss the next steps.
Is there condensation on the face of your meter?
Energy meters (in particular gas meters) are usually fitted externally, which exposes them to dramatic temperature changes and a lot of moisture. This can leave them prone to condensation.
Meters are designed to keep water out, and a correctly fitted, robust meter box will also protect your meter from moisture. So if your meter readings start to get obscured by a thin sheen of moisture, then chances are the seal around the meter face is failing due to age or wear and tear.
Is Your Energy Meter Screen Blank?
Another very clear indicator of a faulty meter is a total lack of power. So if your meter has a black screen but the rest of your power seems to be fine, or the rest of the street seems fine, you are probably looking at a faulty meter.
What to do if you think your meter is faulty
If you’ve answered yes to one or more of the questions above then there is a strong chance your energy meter is faulty and you’re getting inaccurate readings. This means your next port of call is to test your gas or electric meter.
This is a good idea to do because most energy suppliers won’t replace a meter until they’ve tested it to check it is faulty – and if their test shows it isn’t faulty they will charge you for the test.
How Do I Run A Creep Test?
The easiest way to check an electricity meter for faults is to run a creep test. To do this, turn the power off at your fuse box, then look at your electricity meter and see if it is continuing to tick over and clock up more electricity use.
A fully functioning meter should clock no more than 1 or 2 units while the fuse box is off (this would just be residual power that’s still in the wires). If your meter goes up by more than this, either your meter is faulty (or it’s clocking someone else’s usage!)
In either case, to rule out a faulty electricity meter you should contact your energy supplier straight away. They will be able to send an engineer to check if your meter is working properly and arrange a replacement meter if it isn’t.
(If the number doesn’t increase but you’re still concerned about how much electricity or gas you are using, then faulty meters aren’t your problem. Try a load test to see if you have an appliance that is using too much energy instead.)
NOTE: If you try a creep test on your gas meter and it continues to clock while no gas is being used then this could be a sign you have a gas leak. In this case, make sure to contact your supplier immediately.
What happens when you report faulty energy meters to your suppliers?
Once you’ve identified there is a problem, you should contact your energy supplier as soon as possible so they can arrange to test it. After you tell them, they have another 5 working days to investigate the problem and take action – as well as put in everything they’ve found in writing.
If they don’t do this, you may be entitled to compensation. If they do all this and find a fault with your meter then they may ask you to pay to cover the cost of the test.
Your energy supplier should send you a certificate that shows if you have a faulty meter or not. If it is faulty, they should replace it free of cost. They should also refund any money owed as a result of the fault.
If you’re unhappy with the investigation that your supplier carries out – or the solution they offer – then you can make a formal complaint with your supplier or contact the energy ombudsman.
Protect Your Energy Meters From Unnecessary Faults
While it is inevitable to replace energy meters eventually, it can cost to have them replaced early or unnecessarily. This means you need a meter box that protects them from the elements and helps them withstand the test of time.
Here at Repair My Meter Box we have a wide range of meter box repair options from simple fixes like replacement hinges to over boxes for a more complete repair. So if your meter box has seen better days and you want to get it back to its best, why not browse through our range today?